Haute couture is coming up roses

Florals reigned supreme on the Spring Summer Haute Couture runways this week in Paris. But roses in particular are stealing the show.

A floral macramé dress from Giambattista Valli's Spring Summer Haute Couture 2016 collection was seen on the Paris runway this week, alongside other rose-embellished designs. Catwalking / Getty Images

Winter’s gray skies and blankets of snow may be far from over for many of us in the U.S., but flowers—and roses in particular—are popping out all over Paris this week. Or, at least on the runways, where designers such as Dior, Ralph & Russo, Schiaparelli, and Giambattista Valli debuted dresses adorned with this royal flower. Rosy details appear not just as flat patterns (as one might expect for spring), but as appliques, raised embroidery and rose-petal-esque ruffles that pop-out from dresses, skirts and tops.

To be fair to the other flowers, when roses weren’t springing forth, there were also plenty of blue budded-embroidered laces, bursts of 3-Dimensional yellow bouquets, or long green stems creeping up bodices. All reminiscent of a lush, vibrant spring.

But there’s just something about roses. Probably because aside from being beautiful, they convey such meaning. Traditionally, a rose (a word of French-origin, from the Latin, rosa) implied secrecy, and female power. But of course each color of rose conveys its own message—and we saw such a variety of hues on the runway this week, from a pale serenity blue (similar to Pantone’s color of the year), to lilac, gold, silver, and traditional white, deep reds, and blush pinks.

According to the New York Times, Giambattista Valli’s collection was directly inspired by the gardens of Paris. With raised rose embellishments (like the photo above) and his rich, ruffled gowns we can see the Tuileries, the Palais Royale, the Jardin de Bagatelle, and the Jardin du Luxembourg. “I love the idea of having textures that look like fabrics, but are actually intricate embroidery,” Valli said of his 3-D floral designs.

Dior also opted for a more textured look: “Symbols and charms, chance and superstition define the collection’s world. They are worn embroidered on clothing, as a good luck charm,” the legendary fashion house explains. One such charm was, of course, the ruffled red rose: embroidered on a nude and bright red silk chiffon gown. It doesn’t seem coincidental that red roses symbolize enthusiasm, the feminine, and desire. “She is femininity in motion, and every movement conveys confidence,” the brand says.

Ralph & Russo mist blue silk organza strapless ball gown with shaped organza ribbon embroidery

A mist blue silk organza strapless ball gown with shaped organza ribbon embroidery to look like roses. Accessorized with a matching hair ribbon, the model walked down the Ralph & Russo Spring-Summer 2016 runway. Catwalking / Getty Images

Meanwhile, the runways of designers like Ralph & Russo displayed luxe rose-covered ball gowns made of silk and organza. The most stunning of these, perhaps, used pale blue fabric to create rose-petal architecture that swirls over the length of the gown (see above). Others were hand-appliqued with crystal and glass beads, or cut-out flowers with white feather petals that rose prominently off the dresses. White roses are often thought to symbolize marriage, spirituality, and a fresh start. The blue and lilac hued roses (also seen among the roses in the Schiaparelli runway show) can represent more “mystical” colors, which offer a message of enchantment and love at first sight.

No matter the color, these raised, ready-to-be-touched roses are a wonderful tribute to the coming Spring—and to France. A tweet from Vogue reported that Valli considered his rose-covered Couture collection “a thank you to Paris.

So let this article be our thank you to Valli and all of the designers who gifted us with such unique life-like roses this season. Especially now, when we’re eager for signs of spring, this trend gives us hope for what lies ahead, and offers us a chance to celebrate—and wear—one of the earth’s most beautiful, meaningful secret messengers.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.